Sunday, April 22, 2012

A New Direction

This blog has been aptly named "My Journey as a Teacher".  As of May 21st this year, my journey will officially be over as a public school teacher.  I have done a lot of searching and reflection this year, which has lead me to the decision to take a new direction with my professional career.  I have nothing set in stone yet.  I have "had my nose to the grindstone" for so many years to get to this place where I thought I wanted to be, only to find where I want to be is some place different.  My plan now is to stop and smell the roses and to let my calling come to me through more searching and reflection. 

This is a truly exciting and scary time for me.  I wanted to also thank all of you who I have met personally or cyberly :).  You all have offered so much support, guidance and more over the last three years of my journey.  I know that in my future "teacher" may still be part of what I do, but it will not be in the sense it has been in the past.  

Thank you all again.  All of you teachers rock!

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Reminding myself the power of CI

The end of February marks a different time of year for myself and my students.  By this time, the traditional TPRS and overall "enchantment" of school has worn off. The kids are burnt out.  I am burnt out.  It is tough to continue our pace and enthusiasm.  Thus, this time of year I find myself needing some reminding of the power of CI.
In my graduate class (LAST ONE!!!!) I have to facilitate a session to teach other teachers how to do what I do tonight.  While looking for some videos of student retells (which, bummer, I couldn't find), I stumbled upon Carol Gabb teaching ESL to her baseball guys.  I was instantly reminded of the power of what we do, and the possibilities to create real and lasting change in peoples' lives with CI and languages. 
If you're needing a reminder of the possibilities and power of what we do, check it out.  And, thanks Carol,   you've really inspired me!

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Movitation and SLA

I'm in the middle of (or should currently be) conducting a literature review for my last (official!) grad course.  I decided to add on to my current lit review on SLA in the secondary classroom.  Initially I examined the research on best practices in promoting SLA.  Guess what I found?  TPRS/CI is the way to go. Duh! :)
But this time I wanted to see how student motivation played a factor in the classroom.  I believe that students who do not succeed in others' classrooms, sometimes succeed in mine (and vice versa) due to motivation-related factors. 
Why did I write this blog post?  Well I wanted to share two things that I am finding:
1) Anxiety and motivation are very closely related.  As anxiety increases in students, motivation decreases along with achievement.
2) Much of the research on the topic of motivation (and subsequently anxiety) in the SLA process is coming from Asia because of reforms in language teaching mandated by the government.  Specifically, Japan has initiated several major reforms at the high school level which aims to replace the grammar-translation approach to teaching.  Go Japan! 

Japan's progress makes me salivate; and the correlation between anxiety, motivation and achievement seems so obvious, but if it were so obvious to others (eh hum, administrators?) then the research wouldn't be needed.

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Student Motivation

I recently go added to the #LangChat distribution list.  It has been pretty great so far to hear what is going on in that realm.  (Side note: I call it "that realm" because I don't really even know how to use hash tags!) But they recently sent out an interesting topic of how to motivate students to start and stay with world languages.  Obviously, as a language teacher, I think learning other languages is very important, but the best way to maintain students in our programs once they start is to capture their hearts and imaginations. 
I also think it's important to help them see that they indeed can acquire and use another language; that it is not some elite skill reserved for the 4% of "smart" students. 

If you're interested in knowing more, here's the link!  Also, they have a really neat FREE e-book recently out.  I would search for and download that too. 

Hope everyone's second semester is off to a wonderful start!

Friday, December 23, 2011

"Vacation" and Vacation

I just finished reading Ben's most recent blog post, and I couldn't agree more.  We all need to use our vacations as vacations and quit killing ourselves planning ahead and re-hashing our current situations. 

I have been known to use entire "vacations" to write lessons and plan ahead in order to increase my student's learning.  I am wiser now that I realize that it is unhealthy and quite insane to spend "vacation" time working rather than relaxing. 

So let's celebrate what was good and what we learned from in 2011, and look forward to a happier, healthier and more language friendly 2012. 

Happy holidays!

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

A visit to a guru...

A couple of weeks ago I had the awesome opportunity to see Ben Slavic in action again.  I had seen him in a couple of workshops at NTPRS 2011, but this was even better than that.  Seeing Ben interacting with his kids was a real treat.  Seeing him made what he writes about in his blog and what he does in workshops really come to life. 
I learned so much from just that afternoon.  I was rejuvenated and it re-instilled my faith in CI (this year has been particularly challenging, hence the lack of posts - if you don't have anything nice to say, don't put it on the internet!).  I was so inspired by the power of the reading class we saw, that I went and attempted to re-create the same lesson in my own class the next day. 
I couldn't have worked out better because we were working on some of the same vocabulary.  We did the Anna Matava story "Don't Drink the Water" and I changed it to "He Shouldn't Drink the Water" to match the structures we were working with via our Realidades curriculum.  My students responded great.  They loved the reading being on the screen, the chance to just read and hear the Spanish then go back and translate.  Reading is really powerful stuff.  I need to focus on incorporating more reading next semester.
I am so thankful that I live in an area where CI is doing great things, where there are teachers embracing the method (even if it is not in my own school), where I can get support from internet acquaintances and complete strangers, where students are the priority.  Thank you Ben and Diana for having me.  It was a powerful afternoon, and just what I needed to see.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Universal Design for Learning

Hi all!  This still isn't the update I want to post (I do appreciate the words of encouragement and support everyone has been giving me this year!), but this provides some insight as to how I have been spending my semester outside my classroom... as a graduate student.  The good news is I'll be done in July.

Anyway, here is a link to a website I created supporting TPRS/CI with the universal design for learning  concept.  If you're not familiar with UDL, that's what the site is supposed to familiarize you with.

I thought it might interest some of you, so here you go!